Unless there’s an October Fools’ Day that we’re unaware of, we’re going to have to issue an Amber Alert for Ken Roth’s common sense.
Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, argues in this week’s Foreign Policy that Obama should send troops to Africa to apprehend Joseph Kony:
[A]s Barack Obama recognized in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, “Force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans.”
Obama needs to put this principle into practice, and there is no better case for the humanitarian use of force than the urgent need to arrest Joseph Kony, the ruthless leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and protect the civilians who are his prey. And far from requiring a non-consensual intervention, Kony’s apprehension would be welcomed by the governments concerned.
Say what now? First of all, the fact that force “can be justified” on humanitarian grounds hardly means that the only decision remaining to be made is where to start a-forcing. And second through fourth of all, “far from requiring a non-consensual intervention?”
As they say on ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,’ let’s go to the map:
The governments concerned are the Sudan, the DRC, and the Central African Republic. Perhaps they might welcome Kony’s apprehension, but does Roth really believe that they would welcome large numbers of American troops trampling their beautiful shrubberies in order to make that happen? Seriously?
Let’s start with Sudan, because recent reports suggest that Kony’s probably hanging out in Darfur at the moment. Let’s set aside for a moment Khartoum’s cuddly relationship with Kony over the years, its refusal to allow Uganda to send its troops into Darfur to pursue him, and the fact that U.S. troops arriving just in time for the referendum on Southern Sudanese independence might raise a few eyebrows. Does Roth really think that if Obama calls up President Bashir and tells him some U.S. marines are on their way over to arrest a notorious war criminal who’s wanted on an ICC warrant, Bashir’s going to be like “peachy keen!” Because we think he might have some concerns about that…
And then we have the DRC, where Kabila continues to insist that the you-say-MONUC-I-say-MONUSCO peacekeepers clear off the field in time for the November 2011 elections. Apparently, it’s time for the Congo to “fly with its own wings.” Definitely sounds like a government that would “welcome” a new intervention, right?
In Roth’s defense, at an A.U. summit today, the CAR government did call for the LRA to be “treated and fought like al Qaeda.” However, we’re thinking that when they said “like al Qaeda” they probably meant “like a serious threat to international peace,” not “like a group in fruitless pursuit of which the United States should reduce our country to rubble for nearly a decade.”
(Hat tips to Texas in Africa, who points out some other potential problems with this plan, and to Abu Muqawama, who nominates Roth for Tuesday’s “Worst Idea on the Internet” award; Map via Reliefweb)